This December, Christie’s will be offering a selection of 32 lots, from the private collection of Nico and Nanni Israel. Highlights include: a highly important medieval astrolabe quadrant (the earliest known); the first sea-atlas of the whole world – the Arcano del Mare, arguably the most sumptuous atlas ever produced; the first pocket globe, by the celebrated cartographer of the Dutch Golden Age Willem Blaeu.
Nico Israel was unquestionably the most important rare bookseller of the second half of the 20th century in the Netherlands, the most international and one of the most knowledgeable. In praise of his collection Lord Wardington wrote: “Over the years I have known him at three different addresses in Amsterdam and have seen the most beautiful books. But the most beautiful I have seen have been in his flat where he and Nanny have entertained us to dinner and shown us his own collection of some maps, and globes and nautical instruments: and those books of a rare quality which are the best and which he is going to enjoy for a space before letting some fortunate friend add them to his or her own collection. I have also been privileged to see Nanny’s collection of miniature books which were kept in a box: this maddened me to such an extent that I had a miniature revolving bookcase constructed by Julian Stanley, a furniture maker of rare quality working in High Wycombe, to house them.”